I meet many people day to day who acknowledge they need to look after their feet when they have diabetes, but rarely seem to understand why. People with diabetes are at an increased risk for developing problems with their feet for example; athletes foot, neuropathy (decreased or absent sensation in the feet) and conditions such as charcot foot.These problems usually tend to develop when blood glucose levels are uncontrolled, a person is a smoker, has high cholesterol and blood pressure.
In order to spot, prevent or delay progression of these problems, the following are Diabetes Insights Top 10 Tips for Looking after Your Feet When You Have Diabetes.
Often our feet are the last place we tend to check on our bodies, but they take the most impact on our day to day activities. A good time to check your feet is first thing in the morning, before you get out of bed. Sit at the side of the bed and place a mirror on the floor. Hold your feet over the mirror so that you can check your feet from underneath. You are looking for pressure points, redness, hard skin, corns, fungal infections etc. If you do see anything, please do not treat it yourself, please seek professional help.
2. Know the Difference Between a Podiatrist and a Chiropodist
There can be some very good chiropodists in Ireland, in fact many are nurses, but the industry is not regulated. Many individuals may pass themselves off as foot specialists in diabetes, when in actual fact they got their qualifications online and hold no health care professional qualifications whatsoever.
If you are looking for a chiropodist &/or a podiatrist, get a recommendation from your diabetes team/GP. I normally recommend people with diabetes to attend a podiatrist. A podiatrist holds a 3-4 year degree an d is highly qualified and trained when it comes to spotting potential issues and problems with feet. Always check a persons qualifications and ask if you are not sure.
3. Do I Need Special Footwear?
There is a whole industry built up around specialist footwear for people with diabetes. Unless this type of footwear has been recommended to you by a podiatrist or your diabetes team, I would not be spending what can vasts amount of money on specialist footwear that you do not need.
Obviously well fitted shoes are a must. I send my clients to a local sports shop in Cork for walking shoes/runners. They fit the shoe to the person, and have shoes for any budget which I love. A podiatrist once told me the best pair of runners she had ever seen came from Lidl! Once shoes fit well and are sensible, then you should be ok. Always seek advice from a podiatrist if you are worried.
I always advise people to bring a few pairs of their shoes with them, when visiting a podiatrist. This allows them to determine whether shoes maybe causing friction and creating pressure areas on your feet or not. It also helps you to get the best advice for the future when choosing a pair of shoes when shopping.
5. Diabetes Socks or Not?
Again like the specialist shoes, these are only necessary in certain situations and would be recommended by a professional. I advise people to wear loose fitting socks, soft top socks are now widely available. If socks have a pronounced seam, just turn them inside out!
5. Wash with Warm Not Hot Water
Wash both of your feet briefly each day with warm — not hot — water. You may not be able to feel heat with your feet, so test the water with your hands first. Avoid soaking too long in water, since waterlogged sores have a harder time healing.
Dry your feet right away, and remember to dry gently between all of your toes.
6. Speak Up
Nerve damage can be unpredictable. Tell your doctor about any changes in sensation in your toes, feet, or legs. Speak up if you notice pain, tingling, a pins-and-needles feeling, numbness, or any other unusual signs — even if it seems trivial to you.
Your skin may be dry and cracked because of high glucose levels, and cracked skin means it’s easier for bacteria to get under your skin and harder for infections to heal. Use a small amount of skin lotion daily, but be sure your feet feel dry, not damp or sticky, afterward. Try not to get the lotion in between your toes.
Keep your toenails trimmed and filed smooth to avoid ingrown toenails. You may find it easier to trim your nails after using lotion, when your cuticles are softer.
Use a pumice stone after showering or bathing to softly file corns or calluses.
8. Get Footwear assessed before Exercise
If you are embarking on a new exercise regime, ALWAYS get your footwear assessed prior to commencing a programme by a qualified podiatrist. This is to ensure that your footwear is best suited to the type of exercise.
9. Do NOT treat Corns etc yourself
Corns pads are not recommended for people with diabetes, due to the type of acid that can be used in the pad, may cause more harm than good. Always go to a podiatrist to assess &/or treat any potential problems.
10. How Often Should I Go To a Podiatrist?
I advise people to attend a podiatrist at least yearly regardless of whether there are problems or not. They are trained to spot potential issues that you may not necessarily detect. In many regions of Ireland, practices nurses and GP’s are trained to perform a foot screen and will refer to a podiatrist any concerns they may have, or problems detected.
For further information on foot care, podiatry and chiropody in Ireland please click the following link http://www.podiatryireland.com/
Diabetes Insight is Ireland’s only private independent advisory service and education centre dedicated and specializing solely in Diabetes Self Management Education (DSME). Its aim is to make a difference in the lives of those living daily with diabetes by providing quality education, advice, support and resources in a clear, simple, practical easy to understand manner without fear of judgement or blame. We respect and see each person with diabetes as an individual, with individual needs, so all our services are tailored to your specific needs.
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Contact us today to see how we can help you and make a difference to you living with diabetes by ringing Helena on (086) 1739287 &/or email firstname.lastname@example.org. With services starting from as little as 20 euros, there is something to cater for every budget and need.